The Real Ernie Banks

By Larry Teren

The first name of Ernest was written on his birth certificate but we all called him Ernie. Few were blessed with the distinction of everyone hearing a nickname and knowing right away whom was meant. Ernie had reached that special honor fifty years earlier. Now he was just used to being old and dealing with it. The past glories were warm memories but didn’t do much to make life any easier. It didn’t matter how famous or beloved he was when he reached eighty and its health issues. The adjustments to pain and lower expectations to the joy of living were a daily challenge once the alarm clock sounded. Continue reading “The Real Ernie Banks”

The Historic Dateline of Baseball in the first half of the Twenty-First Century

By Larry Teren

Dateline- November, 2020 – Major League Baseball Owners vote to no longer charge ticket admission to the games. Two teams- the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox- are the only ones to oppose. The reason for the decision is that attendance has been shrinking every year to a league-wide average of 8,000 per game.

One anonymous official in the Commissioner’s office said, “few Blacks and Muslims have any interest in the game. The Indian immigrants who fled to the US after Pakistan invaded India and took over are only interested in Cricket. The White population has been shrinking ever since the 2012 Presidential Elections. Hispanics are ardent followers of the sport but cannot afford the typical $100 per game cost of a ticket.”

The owners are hoping that giving away the tickets will get people to come to the game and make it look like the players are not playing just for a television audience. Owners hope to make up the difference in the lost revenue by selling higher priced concessions. Beer will now cost $10 a ten ounce cup, hot dogs- $7 a pup. Fans will not be allowed to bring any food or drink into the ballparks and will be thoroughly checked.

Some of the athletes have been complaining that when playing in front of near empty ballparks, it is hard to tell if they are the home or visiting team. Rocky Peterson is quoted as saying, “hey as long as they pay me my $25 million a year contract, they can do whatever they want. If it means having more fans in the stands- great!” Alberto Zapata, a Cuban defector and recently signed to a three year, $47 million contract said, “Espero que un día encontrar mi certificado de nacimiento y obtener mi tarjeta verde.”

January, 2030- Now that the new Congress is in place, the majority Green Party members of the House of Representatives rush through a bill that outlaws the cutting down of trees for anything unessential. On the list are baseball bats. MLB immediately approves the use of aluminum bats for the first time.

November, 2030- The commissioner’s office is assessing the changes that will be needed to offset the effects of the use of aluminum bats the season that just passed. Seven pitchers are hit by line drives with five dying from the results. One expires immediately on the mound although the batter is ruled out because the ball stayed lodged in the pitcher’s teeth even as he lay limp on the ground.

January, 2030- A consensus of MLB owner’s have agreed to allow pitchers to be replaced by pitching machines, the very type used by kids all over America taking batting practice. In order to placate the players’ union from the loss of up to a dozen men on a squad, teams may now rotate offensive and defensive players during the game at will. Rosters will stay at 25.

The pitching coach will control the pitching machine. He will be able to select from a choice of curve ball, fast ball, slider, screwball and ‘surprise’ while also programming the device to vary the speed and to take into account whether the batter is a lefty or right-handed.

In a related vote, the Cy Young Award will now go the player with the most hits in each league.

November, 2031- After assessing play with the use of the pitching machine, MLB owners have now decided to outlaw bunts as there is no one on the mound to come rushing in to pick up a dribbler. Some owners argue to allow a ninth human to stand next to the machine as the designated fielder but are overruled.

November, 2035- MLB owners vote to point a laser decoder to home plate to determine if the pitch is in the strike zone. Balls will be sprayed with a special phosphorous substance to aid in detection by the laser beam. The home plate umpire will signal the call after reading the display on his hand-held device. Umpires will still decide if a runner is safe at home or if a pitch is batted fair or foul, both subject to instant replay overrule.

December, 2040 – MLB owners vote to put all teams into the playoffs regardless of record. When asked why, the commissioner points out that they did a marketing study and found out that fans care about only two things- statistics and if their team gets into the post season. By playing a full season and being eligible for the post season regardless of record, this satisfies everyone. Fans can keep on comparing batting statistics of players against each other and be comfortably aware that their team makes the playoffs.

All teams with losing records play one game runoffs against each other in each league until there is only one team left. That team will play the wild card winner with the worst winning record among the three wild card winners. None of the regular best-of-five post season matches will begin until one below-.500 team winner is determined. There is a possibility that the regular playoff matches will not start until the third week of October, weather permitting.

December, 2042- After two years of postponing several playoff games due to bad weather, MLB owners have voted to play all post-season games in domed stadiums. It will mean that most participants will not have their fan base show up in person to watch their heroes. To make it fair, if a team has a domed stadium, they must play their opponents in a third-party location.

February, 2045- Due to its scarcity, the congressional majority Green Party has outlawed the use of aluminum in all but essential products. MLB owners immediately lock out all ballplayers from showing up to Spring Training pending how to resolve the bat issue.

February, 2050- Now that the Republican coalition of the White minority along with the newly chartered 51st and 52nd states of Cuba and the Dominican Republic have taken back control of the House of Representatives, they immediately remove the ban on tree cutting for recreational purposes. MLB owners are contemplating ending the lockout and are now scouting Japan for pitchers.

A Walk in the Park

By Larry Teren

baberuthIt was the last baseball game of the Babe’s career. Now about 50 pounds overweight, his swung gulped hard like a whirling dervish and missed on the first pitch at his first appearance at the plate that day. He ended awkward lying flat on the ground, spitting blood down his cheek, needing help to get back up to his feet. The pitcher was that fellow who three years earlier in the World Series the Babe had mocked by first pointing to the right center-field bleachers and then stroking a mammoth home run to that exact location. Now this same hurler was mocking and taunting him with sadistic pleasure as Ruth stood helplessly at the plate waiting to continue his at-bat.

Continue reading “A Walk in the Park”

“Where Have You Gone, Jackie Robinson…”

By Larry Teren
Remember the Simon and Garfunkel song “Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio” from the late 1960’s? It was sort of an anthem for baby boomers weighing in on the changing of the guard from the 1950’s rock and roll culture to the hippie drug craze. Dimaggio retired from playing ball with the New York Yankees  in 1951 after a World War II shortened career grabbed away some reachable goals in the annals of baseball records. He had another fifteen minutes of fame in the mid-50’s as one of Marilyn Monroe’s husbands. Joe kept his iconic status burning in the 60s and 70s with Mr. Coffee commercials as well as the annual trek to Monroe’s grave site to lay a garland of flowers on her tombstone.

Continue reading ““Where Have You Gone, Jackie Robinson…””

A Man on the Moon

Remember when they used to say, if they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they….”? Most of us baby boomers were either in our teens or early twenties when we finally heard those immortal words spoken by astronaut Neil Armstrong, “one small step for man…”. Supposedly we experienced the ultimate, unless you believed it was faked in some New Mexico studio.

But that was so many years ago. It seems as if we haven’t had a good example of prowess and progress to attach to since then. At least our generation could shout to anyone, “damn it! If we can put a man on the moon, then you can build a car that gives 100 miles to the gallon and make it cheap enough for anyone to own.” Or, “you can build your factory in America and figure out a way to compete economically with the garbage they make in China.”

Our parent’s generation used to tell us at meal time, “eat it all up- there are kids starving in Europe.” How was my eating something I didn’t like help some kid in Yugoslavia feel like he went to bed with a full stomach? After a while, with the threat of the cold war, we figured that half of Europe was full of Commies so who cared if they went to bed hungry?

Our parents also told us about not having a dime during the Depression but they all seemed to come out of it unscathed. We weren’t buying it. We wanted a hula hoop or a gun and holster set with plastic bullets that shot. Our parents’ bragging rights were that they finally had a real refrigerator and not an ice box. Or a washing machine and dryer in the basement instead of going to a laundromat and popping coins into a slot to get the clothes cleaned.

Our grandparent’s could maybe shout, “if they can put sound to movies, why can’t they….?” But somehow that didn’t resonate when they were frustrated with seeing progress in more important areas of life. Besides, I don’t think my grandparents went to a movie theater for years until they were older and my parents took them along.

I remember the moon landing day all too well- July 20, 1969 when the historic event took place. I was watching the Cubs that Sunday on television playing a double header against the Philadelphia Phillies, beating them twice. The broadcast was interrupted by a news bulletin to show the moon landing as it happened. Naturally, I had mixed emotions because I would rather be watching the Cubs and figured that space exploration was something that was gonna happen on a regular basis anyway.

The fact is that there were only a handful more subsequent touchdowns of human feet on the moon’s crust surface. But it signified a solid example of American bragging rights, of our desire and willingness to conquer new heights. No challenge would go unturned. It was progress at its best.

So, what do the kids of today hang their hat on? I-pods? I-pads? The Internet? “If I can chat with someone in Kabul, why can’t they…” Or, maybe kids don’t get frustrated. They are so spoiled and coddled. They don’t have to memorize multiplication tables- they use calculators in the classroom. They get all that they want. They don’t get challenged to thinking to demand more fuel-efficient cars or food that doesn’t make you fat but satisfies your taste buds.

I guess I’m beginning to sound like the man on the moon.

The 500 Club

(Spoiler Alert- name the three -non-news division- television shows that have broadcast 500 episodes?)

When it comes to accomplishments, the number 500 can represent a special milestone in various areas of life. There are several associated with Sports:

Any basketball coach who has piloted at least 500 victories is applauded not only for his success but for his endurance as well. To be able to stay around coaching in the NBA for 15 to 20 years is a remarkable achievement and to regularly win at it is to be especially appreciated. Continue reading “The 500 Club”

Where is Justice?

A 27 year old lady kills two people while driving a car under the influence of marijuana and can end up getting probation for her lapse in good judgment. I didn’t write the word alleged because she has already been convicted. Now, she is awaiting her sentencing. At the worst she can get 6 to 8 years in the clink. But, a softhearted judge can decide to suspend the sentence and give her probation. Only because this is a first offense- no priors. Forget that she killed two people by knocking them off a motorcycle. (Let’s not go into the discussion on the stupidity of riding an open-air motorcycle.)

The judge who administered the conviction apparently feels sorry for people who smoke marijuana and then go and kill people. According to the news broadcast of this story, she has been given only a $5000 bond and is therefore able to be out in the free world until sentencing. Continue reading “Where is Justice?”

Loyalty is a Two-Way Street

Recently the manager of the Chicago White Sox decided to part ways with the organization he coached for eight years. He pushed the issue in the last week of the season. Rather than wait until it was over and then press his demands, he made for a disruptive situation. Apparently, it was his goal to leave if certain conditions were not met because he had an ace up his sleeve, or maybe next to the lineup card in his back pocket. He knew that there was an offer on the table from the Florida Marlins to become their new manager. In fact, it had been reported that the Florida people begged Chicago to release the manager the previous year so that he could switch organizations.

But, my disdain is not for the ex-manager of the Chicago White Sox. He did the smart thing. He knew he was being forced out regardless. He played his hand to his advantage and got what he wanted. This is the realization of the American Dream. Never mind the fact that the ex-manager was born and raised in Venezuela.

The aggrandizement comes with players on the Chicago Cubs who decided to make some public statements as reported in one of the daily newspapers. Supposedly, the third baseman who had been with the club for eight and a half years expressed a desire to play for Florida and its new manager. This was said before the season was over. When someone in baseball management expresses desire about a player on another team signing with them next year while the current year is still in play, that is called tampering and the team is subject to a fine. But, I guess it is not so the other way around.

What made it worse is that the third baseman allegedly said that he expected the Cubs to officially extend to him to play out his option year at the agreed-upon 16 million dollars. He said it was a formality so that in case he decided to not accept the option and defect, they would then get compensation for him signing as a free agent elsewhere. But, what if he decided to grab the offer? Who wouldn’t want to grab a new one year contract for 16 million? Apparently, not him because he wanted a multi-year contract. I doubt if anyone would give him anywhere near that yearly figure for an extended period of time due to his age, knack for getting injured, and the fact that he was not a top-tier quality player. Okay, there are always the New York Yankees rocking the boat- but they have a Mr. Rodriguez playing third base.

There is also the first baseman who played in Chicago for just this past year. He is a self-confessed .230 hitter with the ability to mix a lot of strikeouts with 25 to 30 home runs a year along with half-decent defensive capability. No one else wanted him at his asking price of 10 million a year but the Cubs got him when he agreed to defer half the pay to the following year when he could be already gone to another team.

The first baseman also expressed a keen desire to play for Florida next year. This after he had several times expressed how he wanted to die a Cub. But, that was before Mr. Guillen was hired by Florida. Again, what irks a baseball fan is when a player makes these comments to newspaper reporters before the season is over.

I would love to hear that these two ballplayers made statements off the record or were misquoted or suffer from short term memory lapses. Anything. In the meantime, these are the reasons that as I get younger, I lose loyalty and adoration to professional athletes.

Tools of Indifference in Modern Baseball

As soon as I arrived inside the client’s building, I headed to the office of the president of the company to have that dreaded conversation. No – it’s not what you think. We rarely talk business. It would get somewhat embarrassing if we did.

You see, I’m a detail guy and he, being the top guy in a decently sized company is a delegator. He just wants to know the overall picture. The only time I come into his office to do business is to load a software update on his computer. There have been a couple of exceptions where he actually asked me my opinion on a company procedure. And even when he agreed with my observation and asserted that he intended to change things by having a chat with selected personnel, it never happened because no one likes change, despite what the President of the US thinks. Continue reading “Tools of Indifference in Modern Baseball”

A Moment in History or Was it?

With the news that Derek Jeter recently became the 28th player to achieve 3000 hits in a career, it brought back to mind the day I saw pete rose Pete Rose tie or possibly break Ty Cobb’s record. ty cobb It all depends on whether you accept Cobb had 4191 hits or 4189 as has been re-adjusted in the past several years.
Continue reading “A Moment in History or Was it?”